Archives for July 2011

Friday Finds: Giving In

I was sitting here trying to think of what I could possibly have to share this week.  There are movies, cds, books, blogs, companies, causes galore… but this week I can’t do it.

Here’s the story…

-I’m packing up to fly to Texas on Saturday morning to speak next week at a youth camp. (Yay!)

-I’m teaching through the entire book of Nehemiah during the week. (Overwhelming.)

-I get to see a friend AND spend time with my parents for a few hours as a result of said trip to Texas. (Huzzah!)

-My health is not cooperating and lymph nodes are swelling on my neck like crazy. (No bueno.)

-But if God has given me a task to do He certainly knows HOW it’s going to get done. (Amen.)

-As a result of all this craziness and the fact that I do not know if I will have wifi next week… I’m seriously considering taking a week off blogging. (*Sigh*)

-As soon as I typed that last statement, I started wondering how I could still pull 5 posts together, still set up twitter, and facebook, and… and I just don’t have it in me. (Head shake.)

-And then I remembered this post and I decided to give in. (Relief.)

-So forgive me, blog friends.  I’m sorry I’m not better prepared… but this Friday I’m finding peace by giving in and looking up.

-I’m going silent next week.  No e-mails, tweets, status updates, blog posts or anything of the sort.  I’m going to take a break… pour out, fill up, spend some time in nature and hopefully return to you in a better state… more Him, less me.

While I’m gone, will you pray for me?

-Pray that my body wards off sickness
-Retention from the months of studying and learning about Nehemiah
-That I’m able to connect with these high school students
-That my heart would be fully engaged, right where I am
-And more than anything, will you pray that they remember HIS name and not mine

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” Ephesians 6:19

Following and learning,


Thursday Tips: Order to go, please.

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.  Deuteronomy 6:5-9, The Message

Today we are talking about taking “these commandments” with you wherever you go…

(See the vid-to-the-eo for the Thursday Tip.)

Thursday Tips: To Go from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Why spend so much time talking about writing out Scripture?

1.  To see it as frequently as possible!  Your eyes focus your mind.  Direct your eyes to the truth!  God told the Israelites to post His word all over their homes, to even go so far as to put His word on their foreheads!

2.  To bank God’s promises in the vault of your heart!  It all comes back to this one…

How can a young person live a clean life? 
      By carefully reading the map of your Word. 
   I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; 
      don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. 
   I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart 
      so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. 
   Be blessed, God; 
      train me in your ways of wise living. 
   I’ll transfer to my lips 
      all the counsel that comes from your mouth; 
   I delight far more in what you tell me about living 
      than in gathering a pile of riches. 
   I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, 
      I attentively watch how you’ve done it. 
   I relish everything you’ve told me of life, 
      I won’t forget a word of it.
Psalm 119:9-16, The Message


Restore the Joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)

Have you ever been around someone who is reading through the Bible for the first time? I remember when a wonderful gal, Chrissy, became a Christian two years ago.  It was amazing to watch her journey firsthand. I was with her in a Bible study in the months following as we started reading through the book of 1st Timothy.

The night before we were to begin the new Bible Study she sent an e-mail to the entire group that was laden with exclamation points. In order to prepare for 1st Timothy she had been reading through the life of Paul in Acts for the first time. She was reading each chapter and hanging on every word, not knowing what was going to happen next.

Her e-mail read: “Guys! Paul is a sinner just like me!! 1 Timothy 1:16 says, ‘But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.’ Don’t you realize what this means? He didn’t deserve it either!”

The e-mail was an indication of the joy Chrissy was experiencing in her own salvation.

As we sat discussing 1st Timothy the next night she smiled through tears exclaiming, “I didn’t deserve this! None of us deserve this, Paul didn’t deserve this, but He died for us!”  Tears ran down my own face as I watched her joy radiate throughout the room. We were all moved beyond words. In that moment, Chrissy showed me that my response to my own salvation had dulled over time. The wonder of it all had faded and I was simply giving thanks out of habit.

My prayer since has become the words of David in Psalm 51:2, that God would restore to me the joy of salvation! No matter how long you’ve called yourself a Christian, the joy should fill us each day! We who were once dead are now alive! Can I get an “Amen”?!

Following and living,


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

If I took this as chance to boast in ALL of my weaknesses I’m really terrified how long this post would end up being.  There might be things on the list you would expect to see from everyone: laziness, arrogance, gossip, unkind thoughts.  But there would also be items that might possibly surprise you: hatred, deceitfulness, despair, profanity, self-loathing, lack of compassion… and on and on.

And yet, Paul says that I should be ready to BOAST in these weaknesses.  To remind myself and others that I am merely “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” (D.T. Niles)

-Can I tell you how I sometimes waste hours of my time looking at numbers and statistics on social media sites hoping that someone is reading?
-Shall I tell you how often I crumple into tears because I feel overwhelmed?
-Need I mention how often I have to recite Nehemiah 6:3 to remind myself that what I’m doing matters?  ( “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down…”)
-I believe lies about my body and my looks and my clothes and my usefulness.
-I lap up gossip.
-I think of myself before anyone else.
-I serve out of convenience.
-I live for the present.

And now I’m supposed to boast?  How?

When I am weak, then He is strong.

I boast in Him.  I shout that He is the One who is doing the work and (thankfully) this work is not yet completed.  I remember that He does not abandon the works of His hands.  I recall the Prodigal Son and the arms that were reached out and extended in joyful exclamations.  I remember that brokenness leads to repentance.  I rejoice in the fact that He paid a debt I could not pay.  I ask that He work in spite of me.


Help me, Lord.

“I am a bow on your hands, Lord. Draw me, lest I rot. Do not overdraw me, Lord, I shall break. Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break.” – Nikos Kazantzakis



Summer Reading

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. – C.S. Lewis

I’ve always enjoyed reading. I’m not sure if the contests I entered in elementary school were national or regional, but I know that they were a wonderful incentive. Some awarded personal pan pizzas from the Hut while another gave ice cream and hamburgers from Braum’s. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were reading incentives for adults? Imagine how books would fly off the shelves if Best Buy offered 30% off coupons for reading 3,000 pages. Or consider Jamba Juice stamp cards that reward a free smoothie for every other book you read. Someone should get on this!

I am constantly reading non-fiction for work and personal growth and I do enjoy it.  But I can get lost in fiction.  I only use my Kindle for reading fiction.  It makes packing for vacation much lighter!
So here’s my real problem. I’m currently reading 5 books and listening to another one on CD in the car. I’m not mixing my stories, or unable to follow along. My diet this week contains two spiritual memoirs, a summer dose of fiction, and a double round of spiritual encouragement. This doesn’t sound like much of an issue, until you look and see what’s awaiting me in the pile next to my bedside table. It’s as if someone has dropped off a bag of candy and I have to continue reminding myself to eat my vegetables and wait for dessert until I’ve finished everything already on my plate.
Here’s my current list…
From Head to Foot by Annie F. Downs
Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Kindle edition)
Here’s the list that awaits me…
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Epic by John Eldredge
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Reflections on the Psalms by C. S. Lewis
Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts
What are you reading this summer?  Care to share?
Following (and reading!)

Friday Finds: A Method for Dating

I’m excited to have such a great resource to share with you this week.  A personal friend who happens to be a phenominal Biblical teacher and engaging writer started a blog this summer talking about… well…

A Method for Dating

because dating happens…and it doesn’t have to be horrible

Matt Lantz

Who would have thought there could be so much good and practical advice on the topic?  Here’s the scoop from the author, Matt Lantz:

My friends, my students, and now even my wife have all told me that I should take the time to write down my philosophy on dating and publish them into a book.


The publishing part, I mean. Who wants to bare their sole in a manuscript only to send it off to a publisher to get torn apart or, more likely, thrown into the trash can? Even if it did get picked up, it would take forever to get published and then money would be involved, contracts, obligations, deadlines… yuck.

Then, one of my friends suggested that I should write the book via a blog instead of publishing it into a book. A blook? Now that sounds way more intriguing to me. Not only could my posts be media rich (video clips, links to other materials, etc.), but they could also be interactive. Readers will be able to watch the book take shape and participate in the chapters that are produced by leaving comments and engaging with the author as the book is being written.

So, that’s what we have here. This will be a blook (?) about dating. Each week I will make a post and categorize it into one of the ‘chapters’ of the book (see the navigation on the sidebar). Since there will be multiple posts per chapter, the title of each post will begin with a number: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on. So, even if you’re finding this site after the book has been written, you can easily go back to the beginning of the book and read from the start.

Obviously I’m publishing my thoughts here for free – mostly because that’s how they came to me. If you would like to reproduce or distribute my thoughts, please feel free to do so, but please do not change my words or make other people pay for them. In whatever reproductions you make, please include the following statement and include a link to this website: © Matt Lantz, 2011 |

You hooked yet?  You should be!

And then you should get your sweet self over to  Read, follow, jump in on the discussion.


Thursday Tips: Truth vs. Lies

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV

So really, the Thursday tip comes from God… then down to Paul… then down to us.  But I discovered this specific activity only last week from one Annie Downs, author of “From Head to Foot.”  (Sound familiar?)  Check out the video and I’ll catch you after the jump…

Truth vs. Lies from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

1. If you don’t have the book, pick up a copy!

2. Take time this week to identify the lies you are prone to believe.  Write them down on a note card.

3. Flip those cards over and record a bit of TRUTH from God’s word.  Check the concordance in the back of your Bible if you need help!  If you still need help, leave a comment and someone will respond… hopefully lots of someones will respond.

4. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  (This one will be on repeat for always.)


Learning to Love

Long story short: I’m learning to love.

Actually, I think I’m learning to recognize love in new ways… and that in turn is teaching me how to love in new ways.  I knew that love appeared during holidays.  I expected love in church pews and in group hugs.  I dreamt that love would start with a white dress and lead to romance always.

It’s not that love isn’t those things, it’s just that it has come to be so much more.

Love is a post-it note in a lunchbox.
Love is patience with slow drivers and cashiers.
Love is warm food on a cold day.
Love is returning your grocery cart.
Love is retrieving the piece of trash in the middle of the park.
Love is doing the dishes… again.
Love of others isn’t very fashionable.
Love is often lived more than it is spoken.
Love is given, not guilted.
Love is a choice.
Love often comes without flowers.
Love is thankful.
Love does not only take the form of chocolate and balloons.
Love is a gift.
Love is a cold glass of water or a hot cup of coffee.
Love does not always appear in handwritten love notes.
Love is a an hour-long phone conversation.
Love is giggling through a meeting with one of your dears.
Love is remembering.
Love is felt… and seen… and given as we live our lives.
Love is HIM.
Love is in the nails and the cross.
Love is here.
Love is today… but love is also tomorrow… and every day that comes.

“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it — not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)


“…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. 

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.” 1 Corinthians 13:3-10 (msg)

Where do you see love?


Learning to Serve

Long story short: I’m learning how to serve.

I’m learning how to serve joyfully and sacrificially.  I find that I’m really good at serving when it’s convenient.  Like: Sure I’ll give you a ride to that event I’m already going to! Or: Just one Sunday a month?!  Perfect.  Sign me up.

I’m not so great at the inconvenient or the uncomfortable.  I want to be noticed and appreciated.  I want to be served right back.  I want serving to be EASY… not hard.

I’m learning how to serve all over again…

Sacrifice from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”  1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV

Here’s to more joy… and more sacrifice.



Long story short: I’m learning how to listen.

I’m learning how to listen to the Lord, to receive and accept constructive criticism from others, and to give my full attention when I’m in a conversation with ANYONE.  I wanted to take some time and focus on that last portion of listening.

My small group addressed this question last Wednesday: “Who do you know that’s a good listener?”

I know lots of good listeners, but one face stuck in my mind.

“What makes them a good listener?”

After a long evening of conversation we came to the conclusion that a good listener:
-asks intentional questions
-leaves space for an answer
-responds with interest

A good listener leaves you feeling valued as a person and friend.

My friend Megan is such a good listener that I have to FORCE questions her way… otherwise we might end a conversation with me knowing nothing new about her life!  She’s spends entire phone calls asking ME questions.

I described Megan to my group and they wanted to know WHY I thought she had become such an intentional listener.  I guessed that a portion of it was personality, a portion was learned respectful behavior from loving parents, and a portion was more than likely the presence of other quality listeners in her life.  I know of one woman in particular, Carrie, whose presence in Megan’s life has been very influential.  Carrie asks great questions!

I’m about to call Megan on the phone right now and wanted to let you in on my plan to listen to her.  Carrie has an exercise that both Megan and I are familiar with – one that she uses with new groups of women every summer… The 5 H’s.  If you are looking for some intentional questions that will inspire great conversation then write these down or save them in your memory bank!

Ask someone:

-Who are your Heroes? (Who do you admire?  Who has shaped you into the person you are today?)

-What is your Heritage?  (Tell me about your family, life growing up, your heritage of faith.)

-What are your Highlights?  (What are the high points in your life story? – the things that thrilled you, still put a smile on your face)

-What are your Heartaches? (What has hurt your heart in this life?)

-What are your Hopes? (What are your hopes, dreams, goals, or vision for the future?)

I’ve seen these questions used in everything from a phone conversation to a women’s Bible study with 10 in the group.  Take your time.  Space them out.  More than anything else – listen.  Don’t be thinking of your OWN answers while supposedly listening.  Honor and love the people in your life by listening to their hearts.

“When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4, NCV

Do you have any tips for listening?  What questions have you found that help stir up great conversation with others?